Jorge Moll Explores the Science of Being Charitable

Jorge Moll and his partner Jordan Grafman were working on a study that evaluated the brain activity of volunteers who imagined themselves giving money to others as a charitable act or keeping the money for themselves. The neuroscientists were amazed at what they found.


The study found that when people give to others or even think about being kind and charitable, the part of the brain that is associated with pleasure (mainly from food or sex) is activated. This supports the notion that altruism is a primitive trait and not a characteristic of the morally “superior.”


Moll and Grafman completed this study in 2006, and the results supports the principle that is taught in many religious. After all, St. Francis of Assisi even stated that “it is in giving that we receive.” Moll has gone on to explore the science of giving further and is known for a variety of studies and serving in leadership positions at prestigious institutions to lead research that helps people live their best lives. He is a member of the Organization for Human Brain Mapping and a Brazilian Academy of Sciences member.


Moll graduated from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro in 1994 and finished his neurology residency there in 1997. He earned a PhD in Experimental Pathophysiology and is part of the faculty of medicine at the University of Sao Paulo. He submitted his thesis in fMRI as it related to sensitivity and moral judgement in 2003. Jorge Moll is also a post-doctorate research fellow and worked with the National Institutes of Health, NINDS, and the Cognitive Neuroscience Section in Bethesda from 2004 to 2007. Currently, Jorge Moll works as the head of the Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience Unit and is the director and president of the D’Or Institute for Research and Education in Brazil.